The MGA With An Attitude
200,000 miles Plus

Mallory distributor

October 2010:
My Mallory Dual Points distributor now has over 210,000 miles in good service, still working perfectly well.

June 20, 2011:
I just changed a bad condenser. This is the second one to go bad in 213,000 miles. I suppose nothing lasts forever, but it presented me with the challenge of tracing all of the tune up parts I have ever bought and/or installed in this unit. Here is the 19 year 213,000 mile service list:

Date Miles Description Cost USD 6/25/90 Buy Mallory Dual Points Dist. 2332001 $129.00 7/22/92 25000 Install Mallory Distributor 8/22/92 Buy tune-up parts (not installed) 2x points MAL 25042X, condenser MAL 400, rotor MAL 309, cap MAL 271 +tax 57.97 3/15/95 55231 Install all new tune-up parts (prev-maint at 30K) 4/30/97 98917 Buy spares, cap, 2x points, rotor, condenser 51.95 7/10/97 113685 Install 2x points, B.C. Canada (58,454 mi) 3/30/99 Buy 2x points 22.53 5/19/99 138968 Replace bad condenser (83,737 mi) 4/9/02 174545 Replace 2x points (broken spring, 60,860 mi) 4/9/02 174545 Install new cap (keep old for spare, 119,314) 7/7/02 Buy 2x points (for spares) 22.02 8/5/07 210700 Clean and adjust points at 36K 7/20/09 Buy condenser 8.95 6/20/11 238025 File points 6/20/11 238280 Replace bad condenser (99,312) x/xx/xx ?????? Buy another condenser for spare (sometime) 9.95

Lessons and Impressions:
Early on while I was autocrossing nearly every weekend (in the 90's), I replaced ignition parts periodically as preventative maintenance. That was an old habit from my younger experiences with Lucas components. Later on when I was mostly away from competitive driving (after turn of the century), I had the impression that the Mallory parts are robust and durable. I still keep spares in case of emergency, but now I tend to leave the parts in service as long as they are working well. This gives a much better indication of how long the parts may be expected to last.

Points replaced in July 1997 was a quick fix during a fast pit stop on the fly, rather than taking time to file and re-adjust the points. At the time it seemed like 2-1/2 years and 58,000 miles was enough and it was reasonable to toss the old points out (although I did keep one for a spare until buying new ones). Five years and 60,000 miles later one of the points suffered a break of the leaf spring. That could have been a freak occurrence, and it may take a long time to find out if it ever happens again. Now 9 years and 64,000 miles later the replacement points are still doing okay. I just filed the contacts, but haven't adjusted them for a couple of years.

There was a condenser failure in 1999 after about 4 years and 84,000 miles. That took me entirely by surprise, as I had never had any condenser failure before in any vehicle. Common practice is, if the condenser is working leave it alone, because new ones could be bad when new or might fail very shortly after installation. If you want to replace one before the old one fails, put the old one that still works in the traveling tool kit as a spare. If you don't trust the old one, then run the new one for a while, then replace it again, and keep the known good (slightly used) one as the traveling spare. My 1999 replacement condenser failed after 12 years and 99,000 miles. Now that the second one failed I'm just a little miffed that they don't last forever, or even past 100,000 miles. But hey, maybe that still compares favorably to the traditional history of Lucas condensers (or cheaper aftermarket parts).

Now I need to order another condenser for spare. I still have two new points sets held since 2002 while the replacements now have 63K miles. I have a new rotor held since 1995, where the current in-service part has 183,000 miles on it. I have a good used distributor cap with a mere 119,000 miles on it (that probably didn't need to be changed) when the replacement cap has only 64K on it. Those copper terminals in the Mallory caps and rotors are g-o-o-o-d stuff. If I count the first set of spares as part of the original purchase and installation, then I have just $115 in replacement parts (including the next spare condenser) in 213,000 miles ($0.54 per 1000 miles). I suppose that means I ran the 19,000 mile Alaska trip in 1997 for just over $10 in Mallory service parts.

At current prices (June 2011) A new Lucas cap, condenser, points, and a premium red rotor will come to $58. New Mallory cap, condenser, rotor and 2x points come to $103. When the Lucas cap has aluminum terminal posts, how often do you part with another $36 for a replacement cap?

Food for thought.

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